View Poll Results: Should hikers have to pay a parking fee at the OBP/FW and Lafayette Place lots?

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  • No - 0%

    7 23.33%
  • Yes - 25%

    1 3.33%
  • Yes - 50%

    1 3.33%
  • Yes - 75%

    6 20.00%
  • Yes - 100%

    15 50.00%
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Thread: Parking Fees at Franconia Notch State Park?

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Parking Fees at Franconia Notch State Park?

    This thread is about Franconia Notch State Park. There are but two questions:

    1) Should hikers have to pay a parking fee at the OBP/FW and Lafayette Place lots?

    2) If they should, what portion of the fee beyond the costs of its administration should be spent on trail repairs, especially for those trails?

    That's all the poll. Now, what do we think?

  2. #2
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    OK, I'll go, even though I'm not a local:

    1. I have no problem with parking fees. Today's hikers are interested in convenience, and will happily pay a fee for good parking.

    2. 100% of the fee should stay local for parking maintenance and trail maintenance, and to pay front country stewards. But it won't. Instead, 100% of the money will be sucked into whatever governmental authority runs this, to be wasted. It happens every time. Set the system up and prove me wrong for a change.

  3. #3
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I added an actual poll, best I could, so the results would tally in one place. If you are not voting No - 0% or Yes - 100%, it would be interesting to hear where you think the 100% - n% should go if not for local parking and trail maintenance... i.e., towards HikeSafe.

    I also changed the title to match the text - concerning specifically Franconia Notch State Park.

    Tim
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  4. #4
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Hard to answer the percentage question without knowing a lot more. Parking fees need to be administered of course (somebody has to collect the money), and enforced (somebody has to patrol the lot and ticket non-payers), but there's also the increased traffic to the other lots, demand for shuttle service, parking enforcement along the highway (is that federal or state jurisdiction, or both?). There's also maintenance to required trailhead facilities (restrooms, picnic tables, info kiosks - I'm assuming the statute covers this trailhead even though it's in a state park) and probably some more expenses I'm not thinking of. It's not a binary choice between "trail repair" and "sucked into a general fund."

  5. #5
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nartreb View Post
    It's not a binary choice between "trail repair" and "sucked into a general fund."
    Actually, it is a binary choice between "activities that benefit the local resource" and "sucked into the general fund."

    And it almost always gets sucked into the general fund. Studies have shown this. Set up the system and prove me wrong.

  6. #6
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    I think the parking lot should be expanded. I do not advocate collecting a fee there at this juncture, knowing that the funds in that park already do not go to hiking infrastructure (hard for me to believe at this point that the fee would be directed to that, even if it was the stated intent).

  7. #7
    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Since the majority of the those trails are outside the state park and in USFS territory, I see the park keeping 100%. Charge a fee a The Basin as well (much more revenue there). Then use the money to add guardrail or some other sort of viable and esthetic permanent barrier. Getting rid of the huge eye sore, of the dozens of signs and temporary barriers. That probably comes under DOT but worth a shot. Just my $2.
    Joe

  8. #8
    Senior Member gram's Avatar
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    I absolutely support the fees, particularly at Lonesome Lake where I believe overnighters at the hut occupy so many of the spaces.

    Lonesome Lake is a wonderful family hike and I have gone with my children and grandchildren in all seasons. For the last 2 summers this has been impossible because of the parking. And there is no shuttle.

    Just Joe hit the nail on the head when he mentioned a permanent barrier. The signage and the "sticks and ropes" are an insult to the beauty of the notch.
    gram

  9. #9
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    I've been watching the Franconia Notch parking situation with interest the last few years. As I am redlining now, Franconia Notch is a drive-by. That said, the stanchions/ropes/signs are an improvement. I agree with JustJoe that an aesthetic permanent barrier would be better still. Appalachia is not far behind, as witnessed driving by today at 8 and at 3:30. Terrace Mtn., anyone? We are loving our trails to death. Most every physical sport has an entry fee for participation. Hiking will soon join the crowd. Let's start with the most used trailheads. If I want to introduce family or friends to the top ten trails, I'll gladly pay the fee, and show up early enough to snag a prime parking space.
    64.39% When in doubt, go up.

  10. #10
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    Of course, I do support the proposal that hikers should have to pay a fee to park at the lots in question, and that the money it raises beyond the cost of admin. should go to maintaining/rebuilding these very used/under-maintained trails. Go to netc.com and search for Old Bridle Path for Sep 2015, for example.
    The concept worked well for the USFS when they had their "fee pilot" program on the WMNF in the early 2000's, because a big part of what they raised they actually spent on trail fixture improvements. Hikers could see they were getting something from what they paid, and they therefore paid willingly enough. The USFS put out an annual report, stocked at trailheads and visitor centers. It showed color photographs of those improvements, plus pie charts of money received and money spent (BTW, I have several years' reports).
    Ironically, "fee pilot" made many hikers go park at state lots, where there was no fee. The state runs toll roads, the concept of "user pays" is well established in NH society and its laws. Is it time to make users of trails pay something for the upkeep needed due to the impacts they cause?

  11. #11
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    There are several issues bundled together that I think should be teased apart.

    TRAIL PERMITS, NOT PARKING - IMO, parking is not the problem in Franconia Notch. Overuse of trails is the problem. The parking overflows are a symptom of the trail over use problem. Trail use should be limited through enforcement of hiking permits similar to what you find in Yosemite or Whitney or the John Muir Trail or in parts of Yellowstone. This is also an opportunity for hiker education as a part of the permitting process.

    PARK OVERUSE, NOT JUST PARKING - IMO, the entire layout structure of Franconia State Park has created a problem. It is conceived of as a glorified rest area with no gates to control or limit access. The result is that the park is being overrun. I see no alternative that for them to institute a parking permit program. I would advocate they do a percentage as a reservation on-line (using their campground reservation system) and a portion for day-of use at a few staffed locations. If I were a NH resident would strongly oppose the use of fees for NH residents. I see good justification for charging out of state residents for use. Again, the parking problem is a result of too many visitors and too much use. Parking is the symptom, not the problem.

    USFS USE FEES - USFS recreational lands are a public good for all citizens. We should aspire that all people should use them so long as the lands are not over run. The fee program came into being through Republican austerity measures that first cut USFS recreation budgets to create a short fall in USFS operating budgets. Once the budget crises was manufactured, the fee program was created as a solution. The stated goal of the program was to train USFS users to accept "fee for service" while concurrently moving the actual management of as much of the facilities (campgrounds) to private companies. It was a false crisis to begin with and horrible solution to a false problem. Again, the problem of USFS recreational access is not a budgetary problem, it's an overuse problem. The USFS should be funded at the federal level to be able to support recreational use by all Americans regardless of their economic status. NO FEES! We want poor working folk in the woods for the same reason we want them in libraries. Problems with parking (Lincoln Woods, Appalachia among others) should be solved with trail use permitting. Not parking fees.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  12. #12
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    I have hiked the infamous loop a couple of times this year (early on week days) It is a much different experience than pre covid. The lack of shuttles or overflow parking has really cut down on the crowds compared to pre Covid. I also perceive less large group use. Pre Covid there were a couple of hiking tour buses that would pick up in Montreal area and deposit a bus full of hikers in the lot. The bus would just pull through and drop off passengers and pick up later. The tour groups usually hiked in one big stretched out pack and typically were under equipped and not educated in LNT (IE lots of TP in the woods).

    Both of these support the concept of use limits versus parking limits but there is fundamental problem that if you take the total capacity of the two AMC huts, the total capacity probably eats up a large number of use slots. No doubt AMC will lobby heavily to get these passes guaranteed for their guests setting up unfair competition for the remaining use passes. Effectively AMC guests are buying their way around the system. I think that would broadly be not received well.

    I missed the parking permit system in the Great Gulf by a few years but many local contemporary hikers of the era claimed that the permit process was seriously flawed. Apparently those with the right connections got permits while visitors from outside the area had a far lower chance.

  13. #13
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Interesting observation about pre Covid vs current. I'm not getting north as often. But when I have, I'm seeing more impact of trash than I used to. My sense is that COVID has gotten people hiking more, not less. I was honestly astonished by the condition of the Greenleaf trail last year.

    Regarding the impact of the AMC huts on both trails and parking within Franconia SP, if they are already causing over use of both trails and parking without any others in consideration, then that's an underlying problem that needs to be sorted regardless. As for AMC visitors "buying their way around the system", I agree that one-dollar/one-vote is always a crap substitute for actual democracy. Just to be clear, the AMC is not a democratic organization. It serves its member, not the broader general public. If we the people of the general public want good outcomes, we need to engage with the relevant state and federal government structures. I understand the fatigue and cynicism involved here. I have little hope of our government structures working democratically, but it's the only hope I see. The AMC can be put into a box in terms of trail and parking usage but only if democratic control is exercised (from outside of the AMC).

    In terms of the usage (not parking, correct) permit system in the Great Gulf, grift is always bad. But I've lived under such regimes in Cali and in my experience, the inconveniences and capriciousness of the system is well worth the overall good. Yosemite with trail permits is already crowded. Without trail permits... the mind boggles. Permit systems protect popular trails from over use and distribute impact to alternative routes and destinations.

    IMO, the Whites have needed trail permits for decades.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  14. #14
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post

    In terms of the usage (not parking, correct) permit system in the Great Gulf, grift is always bad. But I've lived under such regimes in Cali and in my experience, the inconveniences and capriciousness of the system is well worth the overall good. Yosemite with trail permits is already crowded. Without trail permits... the mind boggles. Permit systems protect popular trails from over use and distribute impact to alternative routes and destinations.
    IMO, the Whites have needed trail permits for decades.
    Permits are only required in Yosemite for overnight hiking/back country camping and when the cables on Half Dome are installed.

    The Great Gulf permit system allowed for unlimited day hiking, and something like 60 permits per day for overnight use.
    Last edited by maineguy; 08-26-2021 at 12:30 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    I'll can never see a trails permit actually working in the Whites. They aren't self-contained, but rather a mix of outdoor areas interspersed amongst communities. Add in the multiple-use aspect and how many visitors aren't actually on trails, there are going to be too many exceptions than to fit the suggested use.

    We have land that borders a section of the Whites. Will I no longer be allowed to walk out the back door of the camp and into the woods? Would I be allowed to be on a trail should I desire?

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